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Live, Learn and Grow

Author: Stanley A. Rice

Title of the Book: Green Planet How Plants Keep the Earth Alive

Publisher: Rutgers University Press

Pages: 314

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Here comes the second part of my reviewing this book “Green Planet How Plants Keep the Earth Alive” by Stanley A. Rice. You can find the first part of the review here. In this blog post I am reviewing another 4 chapters of this book. Let’s have a look one by one.

Front Page

How Trees Provide Us Shade?

In this chapter, the author talks about transpiration, xylem tissues, stomata, etc. He explains how leaf area and number of stomata are related to each other. He talks about leaf area of one tree and then of a whole forest. He explains the physiology of plant (uptake of water, loss of water through stomata and cooling of plants).

The roots of the trees reach far down into the moist soil and draw water through the wood and into the leaves. The water evaporates from the leaves, cooling them. This process, transpiration, makes the tree into a gigantic green air conditioner.

Stanley A. Rice (Green Planets How Plants Keep the Earth Alive, pg: 82)

He further explains how “heat islands” are generating due to deforestation. He highlights that industrialization, modernization, and urbanization contribute to rise in temperature.

Urban areas, consisting largely of buildings, streets, and parking lots, have very little plant cover. With little transpiration to cool them, many cities become “heat islands” that are much warmer than the surrounding forested areas. Studies in cities all over the world have confirmed this pattern.

Stanley A. Rice (Green Planets How Plants Keep the Earth Alive, pg: 86)

One tree that should never be planted to counteract the heat island effect is the tamarisk, a small tree from the Middle East. It does not cost very much shade, and it transpires a lot of water. It is, furthermore, a highly aggressive invader along desert rivers and seasonal streams.

Stanley A. Rice (Green Planets How Plants Keep the Earth Alive, pg: 88)

He suggests that green roofs on the top of multistory buildings may help in reducing heat in these buildings.

How Plants Prevent Drought and Floods?

In this chapter, he explains how plants and trees anchor to the soil and prevent runoff of water during heavy rain. Heavy rains generally wash off the topmost layer of soil and may cause floods.

If forests enhance the penetration of rain into the groundwater, then they should also promote the flow of water in rivers during dry seasons. If this is the case, then a bare hillside presents the humans that live at its base with the worst of both worlds: floods during rainy season, and drought during the dry season.

Stanley A. Rice (Green Planets How Plants Keep the Earth Alive, pg: 99)

Destruction of the native plant cover, and the resulting soil erosion, may have caused climates to become drier throughout human history.

Stanley A. Rice (Green Planets How Plants Keep the Earth Alive, pg: 102)

He gives examples of mud slides in Nepal to heavy floods in North America, drier climates in Australia to rainfall reduction in Amazon Rain forests. In later pages he also explains physiological drought and salinization. How salinization affects the water uptake in plants is explained in detail.

Forests are not just pretty green carpet on the landscape. They slow down the processes by which the landscape washes away, which can be disastrous for the cities perched precariously on it. Forests even out the flow of water, and they moderate the climate. They create a livable world not only in terms of oxygen, global temperature, and local temperature, but also in terms of water. The forests and fields of this lovely planet help to protect us from floods and droughts.

Stanley A. Rice (Green Planets How Plants Keep the Earth Alive, pg: 109)

How Plants Feed the World?

This question is answered by the author in this chapter. We all know that plants are the producers and all other non-photosynthetic organisms are the consumers. So, there are food chains in the ecosystem that leads to food chain. Food energy keeps moving from one organism to another via food chain and food web. These are easy concepts to understand and author gives an elaborate explanation to the energy transfer in this chapter.

He further explains how beef production is a costly affair though he also points out that by being vegetarian would not solve the problem. You will be surprised to find that production, processing, refrigeration, and transportation of meat and meat products is too expensive. Livestock production and maintaining the meat and chicken are burden to the ecology by greenhouse effect.

Humans depend on the molecules produced by plants not only for food but for almost everything else. Plants produce all of these materials for their own use, but they happen to be useful to the human economy as well.

Stanley A. Rice (Green Planets How Plants Keep the Earth Alive, pg: 125)

How Plants Create Soil and Prevent Erosion and Landslides?

In this chapter, the author explains how the plants feed on the soil and grows in the soil. He talks about bind on the soil, formation of humus, organic and inorganic components of soil, and erosion.

Destruction of vegetation can, in addition, allow wind and rain to erode much of the soil away and destroy the fertility of what remains. Soil erosion not only destroys fertility but also the ability of the soil to hold water.

Stanley A. Rice (Green Planets How Plants Keep the Earth Alive, pg: 125)

He further explains what harms are caused by the erosion of soil. He explains the benefits of leguminous plants in the production of healthy and fertile soil.

How Plants Help in Creating Habitats?

In this chapter the author explains how the plants create home for other organisms. You can find plants everywhere and wherever they are, they have various organisms living on them. He gives examples of plants growing in the deciduous forests, tundra, temperate forests, deserts, mountains and in water.

Wild habitats are places where many thousands of species of organisms, from bacteria to bears, are found. But habitats are more than this. They are not merely places where organisms live but places that organisms create. Ant it is mainly plants that create these habitats. A forest is not merely a place that receives enough rainfall for trees to grow; it is the trees and other organisms

Stanley A. Rice (Green Planets How Plants Keep the Earth Alive, pg: 139)

He further explains how plants at different places differ from each other. Plants that grow in deciduous forests are different from that grow in temperate rainforests. Plants that grow in deserts are different from those that grow on the mountains and in water. The examples of forests and habitats listed in this book are numerous. All the habitats are explained in detail.

At last, the author also talks about the future of plant habitats. He explains how anthropogenic activities affect the ecosystem that further affect the habitats. He predicts that tundra habitat might disappear due to rise in temperature and global warming while other forests might migrate to other places.

With this, I come to the end of the second part of this book review. As we know that it is never late to start a good thing, we can still save our planet by doing little things. The book gives us enormous reasons to prove that plants are good for us and for the planet. Plants are the one that make our planet different from other planets. The book does its best to convince the reader, the importance of plants to us and to every living organism on the earth.

The book is highly informative for a beginner in science, an undergraduate student or for those who have interest in life sciences and environmental sciences. This book is also good for those who are eager to know and understand the various changes occurring in our surrounds related to weather and climate changes.

I hope, my review encourages you to give a read to this book, understand the concept and gain some knowledge. If you have a teenager eager to learn about plants and environment, I recommend you introduce this book to him/her. This book will surely develop interest of students in plants and sciences. My next blog post will be the last review of this book.

Thank you for stopping by and reading. Stay safe, stay happy.

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